Remember as kids were were taught in school the Golden Rule? I think that once again we have to go back to small kid time and remember that simple rule that kept the world more peaceful and civil.
The anti-GMO activists might benefit from taking a lesson in walking in another person’s shoes. Remove those Monsanto goggles for just a few minutes and think on your own two feet. It might do some good here.
Imagine being a long time farmer. We’ll call you Farmer Aloha. Farmer Aloha’s parents and grandparents did it and now you have taken on the farm. Your family has a proud heritage of farming and you want to continue it. Well, one day, some disease crops up in your orchard and little by little it destroys it. All that work you did to plant it, nurture it, are all gone despite much of an effort to control for this disease. In a matter of months, your entire family farm is decimated. You are pretty darn sad and depressed. You don’t make a whole lot of money from farming but this is your life’s passion.
Soon, Farmer Aloha gets word that research is being done to help solve this disease and possibly restore your crops. It is a glimmer of hope of continuing the family legacy to help bring back your farm. You go on for years without a farm, taking on a different job, but it is in your blood to farm the soil and land. You try different crops but the very one you want and love is still out of reach. All your long time loyal workers and customers are at a loss because your farm is gone. They know you and your product well and want it back.
Eventually, the research turns out be that hope indeed and within several years, you slowly start up your farm again. Many years and tons of testing was done to get the fruit ready for market and then there is a press release that is sent out with very little hullabaloo. No one really pays attention to it at the time. So many a happy customers are glad to see their beloved fruit again from their favorite Farmer Aloha in the stores. Your business continues to regrow again bit by bit from the initial losses that you are still recovering from.
All the meanwhile, a bunch of radicals starts to get together and decide that this new fruit of Farmer Aloha’s is the next best thing to protest and target. These folks start hooking up with each other and start telling each other many a stories about this thing they don’t understand. It is just too scary to consider that science can change plants. The anti-Aloha group consists of a fringe scientist, surfers, sociologists, bus drivers, hotel workers, green people, lawyers, etc. Because there are hundreds of ill informed frightened people around, the masses grow. Even some of the politicians are fearful of the technology and don’t do their own research on the issue. These people just believe and refuse to accept the evidence. Pretty soon thousands are believing that Farmer Aloha’s crops are indeed a threat. The small minority of other farmers and scientists are amazed at this horrible hate and wrath of misinformation. If one of them should speak up, they instantly are targeted by the anti-Aloha club.
Then comes the advent of the internet and the filth spews even more across the world. More hateful things are being said all over the place and everyone and their grandma is saying the same thing about Farmer Aloha. The hate is all the same things being said over and over but Farmer Aloha continues to work for your faithful customers and clients. It gives you pride to be able to continue to feed them. You hope that this issue will settle down in time.
Farmer Aloha decides to support other farmers too by going to the Farm Fair. You serve up thousands of samples of his delicious sweet fruits. Lots of people appreciate it and will say so. The true local people of course come up and pleasantly ask for a sample first and then take one. Then come the anti-Aloha people who come up very defiantly and lift their noses up and ask, “Are these GMO?” To which Farmer Aloha states, “Why yes they are. Please enjoy a sample.” Some of these anti-Aloha folks tip their noses to the air and stiffly walk away quite snottily or some crouch down to hide this special sweet sample and savor it secretly. Other fearful anti-Aloha people will come up and say, “You are selling poison!” That person starts going off in front of others clamoring for samples and eventually gets pushed away. He never notices the weird looks that others are giving him.
Because of Farmer Aloha’s support of this new technology, the disease pressure is reduced and almost obliterated. The anti-Aloha people discover that farming is the new thing to do after moving to Hawaii and start their own farms. With no disease and a lot of people fearing Farmer Aloha’s fruit, they can sell aloha-free fruit to these folks. These same anti-Aloha folks proudly go about the social media to talk stink about Farmer Aloha and his workers and family. They even put their faces to their comments too so that you know who they are! They even posted really mean and nasty comments on a picture of your kid wearing his aloha fruit costume too! These anti-Aloha people are everywhere on the social media bombarding the whole conversation. No one is listening to you, Farmer Aloha. You are not even part of the conversations. And that is where our stories ends at the moment.
So, lesson from this story is have you ever heard of Farmer Aloha ever saying something derogatory to these anti-Aloha farmers or even posting nasty comments on their farming pages? Or has Farmer Aloha ever gone on the record to tell these anti-Aloha farmers how to farm and what to grow? No, never, ever because he’s too busy working on his farm. Farmer Aloha is all about aloha and education. The anti-Aloha farmers and their club members are famous for this kind of behavior and tactics. Easy to find all over the place sadly to state. We have never seen any Farmer Aloha stooping down to that level.
Simply put, what if people started protesting organic foods? Then spreading nasty rumors about the dangers of organic foods and scary pictures of what it can do to you? Then it would make people really scared and irrational about this food that they consider organic. The organic farmers would be subject to hate and unkind remarks as well as harassment over the social media and at farmer’s markets. This would go on for years and years with no end in sight because more and more people start to believe these rumors as truths. And what if that pretty green organic label incited fear in people to cause them to not buy it based on marketing of misinformation? What if consumers started to demand the right to know how your grow and demand a label if it was fertilized with manure and had the potential for fecal contamination? Would the organic farmers support it? Then, would they like it if there was an organized march against them called MAO, March Against Organic? I doubt it.
I think that if we have others walk in the shoes of the farmers they are protesting and directing their hate and harassment at, it might just shed a different light on where and what we need to do for agriculture in Hawaii. How would you like it if your livelihood was being targeted for completely baseless reasons? You would not like it either!
The golden rule is no longer taught in Hawaii schools but there is something new called the 5 Rs that the anti-Aloha club might want to review in the conversations around agriculture and farming. This is the direction that Hawaii agriculture has to move towards… One of respect, responsibility, resourcefulness, relationships, and resiliency. That is the future!